After a night’s fitful rest Odiri makes her way down to the kitchen of the Rose Shell Tea House avoiding looking at the table wiped clean of her hard work not ready to face the resulting anger it would instill. She found the friendly face she was looking for as Shei looks up from her task of chopping vegetables. Odiri felt Shei was the only person left in this town she could speak too without fear of consequence. The maid pauses her chopping to slide a bowl of fresh fruit across the sturdy work table and uses her cooking knife to point at the stool. “Sit, eat, talk” Shei commands. Odiri climbs onto the stool and stares at the bowl of fruit disinterestedly.
“The day started so well, I don’t know how it ended like this. I made my way down the stairs my heart thumping in my chest. I was nervous for sure. I was sure the rest of the boys would all tease me but it wasn’t for them. You saw how they all reacted. They all but laughed at me! Soveliss was the last person I expected kindness from. Well, he also seemed to pay you quite the kindness too.” With that Odiri smirks at Shei’s wildly blushing cheeks. “I’ve never seen you so flustered Shei. Eucarion seemed to be back to his normal apathetic self with that jab about my lack of ladylikeness. I was wondering if he had changed his mind after his time out beyond the wall alone. I was dead-set on enjoying myself at the festival so after I downed yet another cup of sake proffered by Soveliss, the whole lot of us made our way to the festival grounds on the outskirts where the city proper meets the farmlands. The yukata, as beautiful as it was, restricted my movement in tandem with the damn wooden sandals so I quickly fell behind. Eucarion, noticing my struggle, slowed his pace and offered his arm like a gentleman. His chivalry was a refreshing change.”
“The festival was quite a thing to behold. A sea of colorful garb, brightly embellished stands selling food and trinkets and an entire section of festival games gathered towards the back. Off to the side I noticed a small arena with a banner stating “Tournament of The Wooden Blade” The entry fee was steep at 25g but a chance to beat up on some of my fellows in some friendly competition was beyond worth it. Eucarion’s surprised face as I paid my entry fee was worth the gold pieces already. I noticed both Kodu and Frivolity also buy in for the tournament. I did not feel prepared in any way to match blades with either of them but I can’t say no to a challenge. There were a few hours to kill before the tournament so the boys and I decided to try our hand at some of the games.” Odiri idly rolls an apple between her hands with no real intention to eat it while she continues her story.
“There was a ring toss that Albion won with surprising dexterity. Eucarion solidly won the water jar game, gaining himself a pair of toy soldier, one missing a head. What sort of prize is that? Kodu attempted to match wits with Matu at an age guessing game and surprisingly won. In the middle of it all Frivolity seemed painfully uncomfortable in their yukata. There was a ripping noise behind us and before we knew it Frivolity had run away from the festival. I could not help but worry for them. This was supposed to be an afternoon of fun. We turned our attentions back to the games to see Kodu win spectacularly at a slingshot game. Despite the afternoon meaning to be one of fun I was beginning to feel particularly frustrated by my companions winning the grand prizes before I even got a chance to play. As I moped, a youngster in pigtails runs to me and hands me the painted mosaic tile that Kodu had just won with a chipper ‘Us little girls have to stick together!’ It wasn’t the first time I had been confused for a child but it just soured my mood even further and fanned the spark of my competitive nature. The next game I was sure I was going to win. Target shooting isn’t a game it was what I was raised to do! Myself, Kodu and Eucarion lined up to take our shots and Eucarion and I beat Kodu into the ground. I don’t know what he was thinking going up against us. Eucarion and I had been evenly matched in score so the host of the game decided to pit us against each other on a single target. I was nervous, as I had yet to meet someone as strong with a bow as I. We each nocked and arrow and I looked over my shoulder at him to catch him doing the same. I felt like I had my legs swept out from under me as his piercing grey eyes met mine and his lips curled into a smirk. He turned back to the target and I was left flustered. My shot was pathetic and it was all his charming fault. Ass. I felt redeemed when his ‘grand’ prize was a bizarre petrified mouse. The look on his face made losing completely worth it but my competitive fire was still rolling when the gongs announced the beginning of the Tournament.” Noticing Odiri would rather play with the apple rather than eat it Shei snatches the away and puts it back in the bowl replacing it instead with a steamed bun fresh from its bamboo basket.
Odiri goes on while very slowly picking at the bun still lacking an appetite “Frivolity showed back up just in time for the tournament wearing their normal clothes looking significantly more comfortable. I was a touch jealous because I realized that I would have to fight in the borrowed yukata. Just before we reached the stands I turned to Eucarion and asked him if he would come watch me fight. The candor of his response emboldened me. With an affirmative nod he tells me ‘I sincerely hope you win’. I entered the arena as I was in the first match with one of the town guards and he stood at the rail to one side. I handed the flagon of ale I had been nursing for most of the festival up to Eucarion and followed it with my belt pouch, hair combs and sandals. I needed to be flat footed if I even had a chance to win. I couldn’t tell if he was flustered or frustrated from my vantage point but regardless seeing him hold and armful of my things made me chuckle. In a deft move from my childhood of being forced to wear dresses I gathered the hem of my yukata and tucked it through my legs and pulled it back ‘round to tie in the front to protect my modesty should I fall. My first fight was won with a single blow! The guard yielded almost instantly. I leaned back against the railing to observe the next couple rounds as Kodu and Frivolity both also won their match with a single blow. A masked man went up against a guard but I was a bit distracted by Eucarion helpfully lowering my ale to me and taking it back as I steeled myself for my match against Frivolity. They proved to be much more of an opponent than I was expecting when I watched Frivolity knock the guard out cold.”
“When it was finally time for me to go against Frivolity I shook their hand sportsmanly and stepped back into a fighting stance. The fight was such a blur. I felt evenly match with them for much of the fight but I could feel my stamina start to wane. One particularly good shot almost won me the upper hand but it was returned in kind. I felt like every muscle in my body was stinging in protest and was ready to yield until I heard Eucarion cheering me from the stands. No matter how undaunted hearing him cheer for me made me feel, the truth of the matter is that I was losing. It wasn’t till I started to get swallowed by darkness that I realized I had lost. The fog lifted just enough to first see Frivolity’s worried face to be quickly replaced Eucarion’s. Things fell dark again and the next thing I remember is waking up lying atop Eucarion’s legs while he and Naligor were nattering back and forth. I can’t recall the start of the conversation but I know it ended with Eucarion whispering back to Naligor ‘I’m not her lover. We are just close’. I slipped in and out of consciousness for some time each waking moment was met alternately with comfort of his hands stroking my hair and the cool breeze of a fan on my face. When I finally felt completely recuperated I strongly debated just keeping my eyes closed and staying there with him but I knew that could not last forever. I sat up on my own accord and leaned against him for stability while we watched the final fight of the tournament. Well, what would have been a fight if Frivolity and Kodu ever got around to hitting each other. The just stood there in defensive stances until Matu was fed up enough to call it a draw. The crowd was none too happy about that but Frivolity kept the peace with an offer of ale for the whole stadium.
”Shei continued to go about preparing the day’s morning meal nodding along as Odiri recounts the day prior. “While I still felt shaky after falling in the tournament the whole group of us still wanted to go back to enjoying the festival. Eucarion stayed close by like a mother hen with the most entertaining worried glances until he felt I was truly stable on my own two feet. Naligor won a delicate glass chess piece in a bag toss game that he eagerly showed me like a puppy with a scrap of raw hide but my attentions were elsewhere walking side by side with Eucarion. A dunk tank game was there and the barker called out to us and mistook me for a little girl AGAIN. Seeing my obvious frustration Kodu went over to chat with the ‘fool’. To my surprise Kodu traded precarious places with the fool and goaded me into taking my best shot. A chance to drench that monk was quite a pleasure when my throw hit the target dead on. I smiled up at Eucarion and he looked impressed. My prize was a delicate folding fan with a sleeping cat depicted on it. After a few more games we finished up with some debacle with lifting a barrel of water above one’s head. I knew there was no way I could do it so I let the boys fight over who got to try first. After several failures by the others, Eucarion lifted the barrel over his head as if it was a feather winning him an odd packet of pink powder which he promptly gifted to me claiming ‘pink was not his color’” Odiri chuckles at the memory but then her face turns solemn.
“The peace of the day did not last long. Thunderclouds closed in on the port like a storm and in an instant a glowing dome started to envelope the sky above us. The townspeople were frozen mid conversation and a maddening silence flooded over us. In his attempt to suss out the magic of this dome, Naligor was struck to his knees overwhelmed. When the dome closed over us every single towns person disappeared. In a nearly blinding flash our keys glowed brilliantly and we were suddenly equipped with our armors and weapons, yukatas gone. In the distance we saw a number of beings approach from the sky. The moment these creatures broke the cloud cover we saw exactly what we were up against. Coming straight for us was a dragon as black as death with it’s weretiger rider and a wreath of five winged kobolds ‘round it. I steadied myself for a fight beside Eucarion with Charka and Xiao at our respective sides. My first arrow flew true for a solid hit on the weretiger and Naligor brought the moon’s burning light to our aid before transforming to a wolf. Once the dragon landed we had no time to regroup our effort before it struck us down with with it’s breath of acid. I felt like my skin was on fire and it almost dropped me to my knees. But, I was not the only one to be hit with this noxious acid. Eucarion, Kodu and Naligor were all reeling from such a hit. With their typical ease, Frivolity dropped two of the five kobolds to their death with sleep and Soveliss fired off a volley of magic fire. The healing touch of Oranssi’s sun Goddess brought us renewed vigor as Eucarion hits the dragon square in the chest with an arrow. With dumbfounding strength Kodu grappled the dragon to the ground and kept it still for us to continue our attack. The rest of the kobolds were done in by Frivolity’s death nap. More arrows were launched between Eucarion and I doing our best to defend our animal companions who were both failing magnificently. Naligor’s moonbeam forced the weretiger’s shape back to that of a man in between attacks from all sides. I turned to Soveliss in time to see blue flames of his own creation engulf his body painlessly burning away his long red tresses. I had no time to pity his loss as I had my own loss as Eucarion left my side to join the thick of things. I kept my bow trained to ensure his safety above all others but with everyone so close in I had no clear shot. With a deft move from Kodu the dragon was downed with a slit to it’s throat and a flurry of kicks. The were tiger in his human form realized he was outnumbered and surrendered to us. At his surrender Albion knocked him out cold with a heavy thump.”
Shei had completely stopped her cooking tasks and was staring mouth agape “His hair is GONE?” Odiri blinks a few times in silence then retorts “I just told you the city was attacked by a DRAGON and you are worried about Soveliss’ hair???” With an indignant huff Shei turns around to busy herself again with the food she had going in the wok. Odiri rolls her eyes and goes on “Once everything started to settle and the weretiger was bound, I made it back to Eucarion’s side. There was discussion of our next steps and we concluded the best action would be to drag the dead beasts and the prisoner out of public view to deal with it in private. The moment we closed the warehouse doors there was a pop noise and a rush of noise and to our surprise the townsfolk were back as if nothing had just happened. I can only imagine it has something to do with the walls ability to protect its residents. I set to work tearing down the dragon because we couldn’t indefinately keep an animal this large from rotting and I knew Elder Yen would be wildly appreciative for the components. Regrettably, being shoulder deep in dragon meat prevented me from hearing much of the discussion that happened after the town returned to its original state. I was told that there was no indication of even a scuffle at the site of our battle. Elder Yen and Matu were fetched to the warehouse and the menfolk became wildly heated in discussion of the happenings. In between my workings I heard snips of things like ‘the previous group of adventurers must have died that way’ that caught my attention long enough to see Oranssi storm off shouting “That witch!” at the time I had no idea what had set him off so. Elder Yen seems indifferent to things which aggravated the menfolk even more especially Kodu and Soveliss. Matu seems to support us despite Elder Yen’s opinions. There seems to be a consensus that the wall has chosen us as its champions and that has given the town a diverging opinion that we are either fools or heroes. After finishing the grueling task of dismantling the dragon and kobolds for their most valuable goods I rinsed myself as clear of blood and offal as I could at a nearby well. As I returned I witnessed the room had calmed at least somewhat and Eucarion and Matu were having a hushed conversation that piqued my interest but all calm was shattered when Oranssi returned to the warehouse all full of piss and vinegar and gestured directly to me and exclaimed ‘I value your life, even if you don’t value mine!’ I had no idea what he meant until I made it back here” Odiri gestures vaguely to the Rose Shell with the steamed bun growing cold in her hand.
Shei frowns deeply and leans against the heavy kitchen table. “I tried to stop him Odiri. I really did. I know how hard you worked on those carvings. It was just a table. I don’t know what he had made up in his mind that the table had anything to do with this all. I just know that he was in a rage as he made me pack up his things. He’s moved to the temple so for now he will not trouble you. The Madam knows of what he did and said she would see to it personally. The pressing matter of it all is what did I do to deserve you shattering things in your room for me to clean up today?” Odiri winces at the mention of the destruction she wreaked on her own room, “You heard that?” Shei nods “I was going to go upstairs to check on you but I noticed Eucarion beat me to it. I will admit I lingered for a little just to make sure he was not being an arrogant ass as he is wont to be. So…that kiss eh?” Odiri drops the steamed bun in surprise “SHEI! How could you! That was a private moment!” Odiri points accusatorily at her friend in her exclamation. Shei laughs heartily, “If you wanted privacy maybe you should have closed the door. If I was kissed like that I would not have let a man leave my chambers till morning, what did you do to scare him away you silly halfling?” Odiris face screws up in a confused frown. “He…He needs time. I have to respect that. Shei he’s married…We should not be kissing in the first place.” Shei sighs and eyes the contemplative halfling with a look bordering on pity. “What are we gonna do with you Odiri.”